Natural Stevia Based Sweeteners for Your Health

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Introduction

From a health standpoint sugar is your enemy but this does not mean you must give up sweeteners. The sweetener stevia is made from the leaves of stevia rebaudiana, a plant that is native to South America. In December 2008 Stevia was approved as a natural sweetener by the Food and Drug Administration. This cleared the way for many people to be able to enjoy its benefits.

Since approved as a sweetener the use of stevia has risen rapidly in the US. It is now available under the brand names such as Only Sweet, SweetLeaf, fructevia, Slimtevia, Nustevia, PureVia, Reb-A and Truvia. The following is representative but not an exhaustive list of stevia based sweeteners.

Stevia products

SweetLeaf

SweetLeaf® is made by using the leaves of the stevia plant and extracting their naturally sweet taste with only cool, purified water. No chemicals, alcohols, or additives are used. SweetLeaf® is the only chemical-free, zero-calorie, zero-carb, zero-glycemic index, 100% natural sweetener. Stevia is very sweet and contains zero calories. It is a good choice for use when trying to lose weight. A teaspoon of table sugar for example, contains 16 calories. Stevia seems to be the ideal sweetener for people watching their weight and needing to control their blood sugar. It however has a bitter after taste that some people find objectionable.

Fructevia

Fructevia is a blend of Rebaudioside A an extract from stevia, Fructose, Magnesium Carbonate,and nutritional supplements called Fructo-Oligosaccharides.

Fructevia is about three times as sweet as sugar so you use 1/3 to half as much. The company guaranties Fructevia will not have a bitter after taste. There are no genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) in Fructevia and it contains no Gluten or chemicals. It is completely a product of nature. Fructevia is a healthful sweetener but much sweeter than sugar yet with a small fraction of the calories and virtually no effect on blood sugar. It is the Fructose that keeps the stevia from being bitter. This is particularly true when only small amounts are used.

The Magnesium in Fructevia is an important mineral for your health including nerves, muscles, bones, and heart. Studies have reported that Americans are dangerously magnesium-deficient.

What is fructose?

Fructose, or fruit sugar, in Fructevia is a monosaccharide (simple sugar) found in many plants. The glycemic index for Fructose is low (19). Fructose has the lowest Index rating of all natural sugars. Fructose is not the same as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

SLIMTEVIA

The ingredients of Slimtevia are basically this same as that of Fructevia. Slimtevia like Fructevia adds a little fructose to eliminate the bitter after taste and still have a product that does not raise your blood sugar level. Slimtevia like Fructevia doesn’t spike your blood sugar and does not have the bitter taste associated with pure stevia.

NuStevia

An individual packet is one serving which is ½ tsp. powder (1). A packet of NuStevia contains 80 mg of stevia and 920 mg of Maltodextrinand a very small amount of natural flavors. Thus NuStevia is only 8.96% stevia and over 91% is maltodextrin. The glycemic index for maltodextrin is 150 which is high.Maltodextrinis a type of carbohydrate. It is produced from starch by partial hydrolysis. The actual glycemic index for maltodextrin (150) is high. The amount of maltodextrin however a serving of NuStevia White Stevia is less than a gram. This mixture with 91% maltodextrin is reported to not have the bitter after taste associated with regular stevia even though it will increase your blood sugar level a little. 1 tspof NuSteviais as sweet as 1 tspof sugar (1 cup= 1 cup).

Truvia

The development of Truvia was supported by a major large soft drink company who was instrumental in causing FDA to approve the use of stevia. The power of money is interesting indeed. Truvia is a stevia-based sugar substitute. Truvia is a combination of two different types of sweeteners: rebiana and erythritol with natural flavors. Erythritol is a “sugar alcohol” made by fermenting glucose with yeast. Sugar alcohols are generally recognized as safe but they can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea and can have a laxative effect. Erythritol tends to present less of a problem of these effects than other types of sugar alcohols.

Rebiana is the main ingredient in Truvia. It’s a purified form of rebaudioside A, which is one of the components of the stevia plant. Since its introduction in 2008, Truvia has become the number two selling sugar substitute in the United States, surpassing Equal and Sweet’n Low. It is still small next to Splenda which reportedly has negative health implications. Splenda is not a stevia product. Splenda represents 60% of the sugar substitute market. Splenda will give you a big sugar spike as it is 95% Malto-Dextrin or some variant thereof. The Glycemic Index is higher than Table Sugar. Truvia and PureVia are both stevia extract sweeteners sold by major economic powers who market soft drinks.

PureVia

PureVia® is Pepsi’s sweetener developed from stevia. It is low-calorie sugar substitute developed jointly by PepsiCo and Whole Earth Sweetener Company PureVia is a blend of several different ingredients. It contains dextrose, cellulose powder; natural flavors as well as the stevia extract rebaudioside A.

Summary

Some stevia products such as sweetleaf are made by just extracting the sweetener using water without any additives producing a safe and healthy product. Fructevia and Slimtevia add a little fructose to eliminate the bitter after taste associated with stevia. They are a healthy sweetener that does not raise your blood sugar level. NuStevia uses Maltodextrin to eliminate the bitter taste of stevia. A serving contains 80 mg of Stevia extract and 920 mg of Maltodextrin. Thus NuStevia contains only 8.96% stevia and over 91% maltodextrin. Truvia and PureVia® are developed sweeteners from stevia and made by two major soft drink manufactures.